(Riverton, Wyo.) – Central Wyoming College graduated 75 students from the TRIO Program this past week in ceremonies at the Intertribal Education and Community Center. The graduates recognized included those from the Summer of 2017, the Fall of 2017, and the Spring of 2018.

President Dr. Brad Tyndall acknowledged the struggles the students overcame to get to this point in their lives. “You have overcome lots of struggles, you’ve shown stubborn resolve, grit and perseverance,” he said. “The great things this college does is represented in this room. CWC is ranked as one of the best colleges in the nation taking students from the bottom quintile of poverty and moving them to the 90th percent, or top quintile. It’s a true rags to riches story. You make us look good.”

Deryle Matland, the Student Support Services Program Manager noted that the TRIO program has been lifting students out of poverty for 30 years. “We have graduated 6,000 students from this program over that period. This is our 30th anniversay,” she said.

Deb Starks, the college’s disability services coordinator and counselor, thanked the students for giving it their all. “You have persisted through many difficulties. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed and you’ve faced tough challenges,” she said. “How you respond to those makes a difference. Your education is something that no one can take away from you.”

CWC’s Professor of Psychology, Jewel Dirks, who is retiring at the end of the current college year, echoed much of what had already been said, but she told two stories of people who faced insurmountable odds, but succeeded. One featured a Chinese man, Poon Lim, who survived the sinking of a ship and who lived for 133 days alone at sea. “He said later he wished there were people there to help him as he didn’t know how to swim, fish or survive alone on the water.” Dirks then told the group that man was the only ship sinking survivor to this day who actually gained weight during his long ordeal at sea. He figured it out,” she said. “He surprised himself.”

Her second story was about the 34-year-old Briton woman who walked 1,000 miles across Antartica, becoming the first woman to accomplish that feat. Felicity Aston made the trek in 59 days in unforgivably frigid weather pulling two sleds with supplies. “Aston said the hardest thing about the long walk was getting up every morning and leaving her tent. She wanted to stay inside the tent, but she knew that if she did, she would die,” Dirks said. “She finished the walk and surprised herself.”

In closing, Dirks told the students, “Surprise yourself of what you can do.”

2018 CWC TRIO Program Graduates